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Local community service projects need youths’ time

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

MOULTON — Alabama youths need to step up and fill the empty volunteer slots left by aging baby boomers, said Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Morese.

She hopes this year’s Youth Leadership class, whose members were announced last week, will start a trend by making community service a priority.

“As baby boomers are getting older, you don’t see many younger folks volunteering, and I think we’re really missing the boat,” said Morese.

“We need to get this generation involved so that it becomes a way of life.”

The chamber is encouraging youths to do that with Community Service Day, a new component to its Youth Leadership Program, scheduled for Oct. 23.

“They’re going to select a project for that day, so you’ll see 32 students working around the community on hands-on projects with nonprofits,” said Morese.

Those projects may include spending time with a child as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, reading to senior citizens at one of the county’s nursing homes or training
with Hospice of the Valley, she said.

Volunteering, a key component of leadership, said Morese, requires excellent time-management skills and the self-awareness to know where you can be most useful.

“Most people’s excuse for not volunteering is they don’t have enough time, but it’s really about managing your time so you can do the things that are most important,” she said.

Choose carefully

Before following your friends to the volunteer project that’s in vogue this season or just randomly selecting one, youths should research multiple nonprofits, recommended Morese.

“If you only have two hours a week, you need to find out where you’ll get the most return and which nonprofit will get the most return,” she said. “Find out the mission, goals and objectives first. That way you can match your skills with their needs.”

Lawrence County’s Youth Leadership Program, sponsored by the chamber and funded by private donations, is a nine-month program for high school juniors and seniors. Students learn about team building, politics, government, industrial development and culture by spending one day each month with a community leader.

The chamber selected the following students for this year’s Youth Leadership Class:

East Lawrence High School: Kayla Jones and Erin McCollum.

Hatton High School: Morgan Peebles, Audra Smith, Drew Smith and Stormie Vess.

Lawrence County Christian School: Landon Dutton and Devin Gardner.

Lawrence County High School: Olivia Coffey, Amber Dunlap, Autumn Dyar, Tyrie Fletcher, John Michael Hill, Jim Hultman, Heather Key, Makenna Lang, William McWhorter, Jonathan Naylor, Haley Nichols, Jordan Oliver, Alex Smith, Ashton Smith, Ari Stephenson, Bekah Stockton, Kassie Terry and Summer Wilkerson.

Mount Hope School: Chelsea Fike and Pam Tippett.

R.A. Hubbard School: Kenyetta Aldridge and Jasmine Smith.

Speake School: Emily Cummings and Bertha Priebe.

For more information about the program or to make a donation, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 974-1658.

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